Law Practice Survey Reveals Increases in Lawyer Income
and Optimism for Future of Profession

By Rick DeBruhl, Chief Communications Officer
June 19, 2013

Attorneys in Arizona are not only making more money than they were three years ago, they’re also slightly more optimistic about the future.

Those are some of the results gathered by the State Bar of Arizona as part of its Economics of Law Practice survey. The Bar does a comprehensive survey of its members on economic issues every three years. The 2013 survey is fifth in this series. Nearly 2,000 members answered questions ranging from salaries to job satisfaction.

Some highlights:

  • Median net income in 2012: $100,000 (11.1% increase over 2009)
  • Full time attorneys reported a median net income of $104,000 (10.9% increase over 2009
  • Average income for full time attorneys is now $143,403
  • Highest Annual Salary: Professional malpractice law ($272,500 median salary per year)
  • Lowest Annual Salary: Consumer law attorneys ($35,000 median)

The median billing rate per hour is now $255, which is a slight increase over the $250 rate three years ago. There has, however, been a steady increase in hourly billing rates since the Bar’s first economic survey in 2001 that showed lawyers charging a median rate of $175 per hour. The survey also found that attorneys have reduced fixed costs as well as what they pay for office space over the past decade.

Looking forward:

  • 81% of Arizona attorneys feel that their practice or law firm is likely or very likely to be profitable.
  • 50% envision offers to hire new lawyers
  • 37% expect to see lawyer layoffs
  • 41% expect the economy to improve over the next two years (That 41% total is 5% higher than the number who expected improvement three years ago.)
  • 37% expect the economy to stay the same.

Nearly half (49%) of attorneys say they get either a great deal or quite a bit of satisfaction from the practice of law. That is a slight increase from 2010. 21% say they get too little or no satisfaction from their legal career. Attorneys practicing in the areas of health/hospital law and immigration/naturalization were most likely to view their practice area as becoming more satisfying or at least remaining the same. Workers’ compensation attorneys had the greatest percentage who viewed their practice area as likely to be less satisfying.